Fisherfolk to build P2.3-M artificial reefs in Subic
SUBIC BAY FREE PORT—Fishers in communities adjacent to this free port will be building artificial reefs worth about P2.3 million in Subic Bay to increase fish population in the area and boost their income.
Laureano Artagame, chairman of the Subic Bay Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (SB-IFARMC), said the artificial reef project will be funded through the P4-million financial assistance recently given by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) as part of the authority’s commitment to sustainable development of the Subic Bay area.
The fund was coursed through SB-IFARMC and the Olongapo City-IFARMC, which were created under Republic Act 8550, otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.
The two groups represent fisher-folk associations and communities in the Subic Bay area, including those in the municipality of Morong in Bataan, and the towns of Subic and San Antonio in Zambales.
“We will be using the bulk of the fund to build artificial reefs, so that we may increase local fish production,” said Artagame. “The artificial reefs are designed to replace former fishing grounds in Subic Bay, which have been taken over by commercial development and maritime projects.”
Artagame added that apart from the P2.3 million set aside for the artificial reefs, the fisher-beneficiaries will use P.7 million for the operation of the IFARMC; P.5 million for a scholarship program to benefit IFARMC members and their immediate families; and P.5 million for livelihood programs for IFARMC members and their families.
Meanwhile, SBMA officials said the authority granted the assistance “in fulfillment of the agency’s responsibility to communities affected by the development of the Subic Bay Free Port.”
“As we develop the bay—implementing in the process such projects like the Subic port modernization and the Hanjin shipyard—we have closed off some areas that were previously fishing grounds used by local fishermen,” said SBMA chairman Feliciano Salonga. “This assistance is one way whereby the SBMA could contribute to the welfare of fisher folks in the Subic Bay area.”
According to SBMA administrator Armand Arreza, the P4-million assistance provided by the agency was taken from the Environmental Guarantee Fund, which was created as a condition for the issuance of permits for the Subic port development and Hanjin shipyard projects.
Arreza said that both projects affected local fishing communities whose fishing areas have somewhat dwindled due to the growing maritime trade, as well as the development of shorelines, foreshores and adjacent areas in the Subic Bay Free Port Zone.
He added that the SBMA forged an agreement with the SB-IFARMC in August 2009 for the provision of the P4-million assistance.
“As you can see, we’re not just concerned about attracting investors to the Subic Bay Free Port,” Arreza said. “The SBMA also has a very strong presence in corporate social responsibility, and this is just part of our program.”